Please see the update to this blog! The best part about writing a dissertation is finding clever ways to procrastinate. I think a major deterrent that keeps people away from graduate school is the requirement to write a dissertation or thesis.
One often hears horror stories of the excessive page lengths that are expected. A single chapter may be pages in length, whereas the same chapter published in the primary literature may only be 10 or so pages long in a journal. Any professor will tell you that page length is not a good indicator of the quality of your work.
Regardless, I feel that some general page length goal should be established prior to writing. One could argue that it indicates absolutely nothing.
My advisor once told me about a student in Chemistry that produced a dissertation that was less than five pages, and included nothing more than a molecular equation that illustrated the primary findings of the research. Like any indicator, page length provides information that may or may not be useful.
However, I guarantee that almost every graduate student has thought about an appropriate page length on at least one occasion during their education. The University of Minnesota library system has been maintaining electronic dissertations since in their Digital Conservancy website.
These digital archives represent an excellent opportunity for data mining. Unfortunately, the code will not work unless you are signed in to the University of Minnesota library system. Obviously, this sample is not representative of all institutions or time periods, so extrapolation may be unwise. The code returns a list with two elements for each author. This raw HTML is then further parsed using some of the base functions in R, such as grep and strsplit. The tricky part is to find the permanent URL for each student that contains the relevant information.
The loop stops once all records are imported. The important part is to identify the format of each URL so the code knows where to look and where to re-initiate each search. For example, each author has a permanent URL that has the basic form http: The permanent URL for each student is then accessed and parsed. The important piece of information for each student takes the following form:. University of Minnesota Ph. This chunk of text is then saved to the output object for additional parsing.
After the online data were obtained, the following code was used to identify page length, major, month of completion, year of completion, and advisor for each character string for each student. The section of the code that begins with get data using function takes the online data stored as dat on my machine and applies the function to identify the relevant information. The resulting text is converted to a data frame and some minor reworkings are applied to convert some vectors to numeric or factor values.
Now the data are analyzed using the check. The data contained 2, records for students that completed their dissertations since The range was incredibly variable minimum of 21 pages, maximum of , but most dissertations were around to pages. Interestingly, a lot of students graduated in August just prior to the fall semester.
As expected, spikes in defense dates were also observed in December and May at the ends of the fall and spring semesters. The top four majors with the most dissertations on record were in descending order educational policy and administration, electrical engineering, educational psychology, and psychology.
Not many differences are observed among the majors, although some exceptions are apparent. Economics, mathematics, and biostatistics had the lowest median page lengths, whereas anthropology, history, and political science had the highest median page lengths.
This distinction makes sense given the nature of the disciplines. The maximum number of students that completed their dissertations for a single advisor since was eight. For those interested, the below code was used to create the plots.
How long is the average dissertation? I should trim some of that. Mine is not pages well there are of those at the moment but a webpage in Danish just to scare people off — smaller parts in English. And as far as I can see I have crossed 1TB now. Any idea if that is just ordinary or somekind of extreme?
Hm, hard to say for the page length vs web page comparison since data storage is not comparable to text length. How long is an average PhD thesis? What about the DNP? Many Nurse practitioner schools are transferring to a doctorate. Nurse practitioners can prescribe medications and do a lot of the things a doctor does.
They see their own patients and make their own decisions most of the time. A CRNA has a nurse with a masters in anesthesia. Also moving toward a doctorate, they do anesthesia at almost the same level as an anesthesiologist. It would probably not be appropriate to call themselves doctor in a medical setting even though they have one, though.
Nurse Practitioners are not scientists. Nursing PhDs are scientists who do scientific research in the field of medical care, especially as it pertains to nursing practice. The latter two are both scientists, and the former two are both applied medicine.
Doctor of Nursing Practice is one possible degree, focusing more on the actual practice of nursing, while a PhD in Nursing would be a more academic focused degree. Nursing is a parallel track to diagnostic medicine, with Nurse Practitioners having much of the same skillset and autonomy of P.
A math dissertation might as well be Martian with all the symbols. A lot of humanities dissertations might as well be Martian because of all the theory being used which necessitates an esoteric vocabulary. For a history dissertation, I imagine the historiography theory would be dense.
Honestly, a lot of literary theory is gibberish even to people in the field. Both of us struggle with some theory because of the dense masturbatory writing. Funny you should mention Russell, seeing as how he is also a venerable mathematician.
Depending on the subject you might come across complex ideas but because history is multi-disciplinary these complex ideas come from the other subjects. This is not to say that History is easy, far from it but the skill of a historian is synthesising a hell of a lot of information, theories and sources from numerous disciplines and making a cohesive strong argument. Although some historians do write incredibly dry and boring stuff especially Economic historians because their work is full of Economic theory.
You can write a damn good physics related paper knowing little more than physics and maths. You will have your dissertation ripped to pieces by people who come at it from different angles. So while history is a very accessible subject, to the extent that laymen can read PhD thesis and understand chunks of it, actually producing it can be very hard and require a great general knowledge. Far from an easy thing.
But readable to whom? My guess is that a mathematician is twice as likely as a historian to convince another human being in the same field to read his or her thesis.
I only took a few history classes in college, but I probably bought a dozen books that started out as PhD theses. They were way too dense to be best sellers. I think most people in my program have written around pages, which seems reasonable. My boss just did his dissertation for CS, less than 50 pages, no problem. What are you doing your research in? I study artificial intelligence and evolutionary computation. Reading about your research is super interesting!
Keep up the good work! It took a really long time to type, and that was pretty much transcribing notes. My dad has a PhD in Physics and did everything on a typewriter. He also walked to and from university in the snow, up hill both ways. I need to learn LaTex. LaTeX is the most common sane way to do it, and I try to encourage every undergrad I know to get started on it earlier rather than later. AIAA actually has its own LaTeX template that you have to use when writing any papers you intend to submit to any one of their conferences or publications.
I think other disciplinary organizations probably have theirs too. Recently though, Markup Markdown is gaining a lot of traction because there are some document processors out there right now that combine its simplicity with inline LaTeX for mathematics. YMMV of course, but this is my personal observation at least in my particular subdiscipline of Aerospace Engineering. Using Word is likely to throw me into fits of rage and result in damaged computers. I dislike MS Word as much as the next sane person and I love LaTeX as much as the next computer scientist , but it sort of make sense for people who already know how to use it to simply use MS Word.
What we need to do in my humble opinion is push Markdown as a standard format for "normal text with images" and require it at university. And create good editors for it, with enough features to compete with MS Word. I thought that markdown was more for web pages, and not for actual papers. I definitely see the appeal of using it for web pages no floating figures, lists are easier, etc, etc , but why should you use it for actual documents? Markdown owes much of its recent resurgence in academia to the development of Pandoc -- a multi-format document converter.
For starters, Markdown is readable in plain-text. This takes the headache out of collaborative publications. Markdown circumvents these difficulties. Secondly, BibTeX is getting outdated and cumbersome. It is not used by any of the major bibliography management programs out there, such as Mendeley, Zotero and Papers. Pandoc, in the meantime, handles CSL format directly. Third, and perhaps most important, is that Pandoc is capable of handling hybrid syntax within the same document or workflow.
I mean two things by that:. It can parse Markdown files alongside a LaTeX style sheet. And finally, because Pandoc is a local document processor just like LaTeX, the documents themselves can be hosted on code repositories like GitHub or BitBucket for efficient collaboration with robust version tracking, and then converted to identical PDF outputs by individual collaborators.
So in essence, it preserves the collaborative advantage of LaTeX by using the same "code development" paradigms that GUI word processors cannot provide. The end result is indistinguishable, but I find the workflow to be simpler. I realized that I made a mistake earlier to mention Mou when I really should have mentioned Pandoc instead. I use it as an editor with an incomplete quick-preview function. Yes, but my understanding is that use of LaTeX in a field is directly correlated by how mathy the field is.
Standard in economics and statistics. I write everything in LaTeX or just plain text files anymore regardless of how much math or code they have. We use it all the time for papers and presentations. Everybody in my cohort has moved to google docs or LaTeX. Word is bloated and evil. The philosophy department at my alma mater uses LaTeX for everything. Most of the undergrads use regular word processors, but some of the ones that end up taking intermediate logic also end up using LaTeX for everything.
I was the only person in my department that I know of who used LaTeX to write my thesis. Everyone else used the Word template provided by the university. Last semester I TeXed typed pages of stuff for homework. Of course, this is all homework stuff. If you do "cultural anthro" and hang out with head hunters, you can learn a few tricks Also, many obtain outside employment, sometimes unrelated to anthropology, and work on their dissertation in their spare time.
It is relatively easy for that to end up being 8 years in an anthropology Ph. Average is about 6 some say 7. Immersion takes time to get truly wonderful results and is a minimum two year commitment. Makes sense that the data-heavy majors are on the shorter side of things since they can convey a substantial portion of their premise with formulas and graphs as opposed to lengthy explanations of social phenomena for example.
I, for one, would not have predicted that physics and chemistry would be at opposite ends. I think at least some of this is random cultural drift. Makes sense to me. A physics dissertation would be mostly math, which is really information-dense, while in chemistry you have to include drawings and, depending on the research area, potentially an absolute shit ton of experimental data.
You can replicate chemical research from the dissertation alone? The principle at play for most of us in the natural sciences is that any other person with similar training should be able to replicate your experiment. If your experiments are not reproducible, the findings are not real. I combined mine B. Writing grants in fire prevention, discussing my moral obligation in risk vs reward situations, upholding fire code law , etc. I have a dissertation from a professor named David Enoch, he studied under a super-famous contemporary named Derek Parfit.
Wittgenstein did it in 75 pages. This is particularly important considering many faculties in the UK and Ireland will specify a word count, particularly in humanities and the social sciences this seems to be typically somewhere between 80k and k. Sometimes not even your committee I wrote my 40 page senior seminar paper last semester for my history undergrad and it was miserable.
The thought that I would need to do 7 times that to be remotely close to average makes me want to vomit. Junior year I wrote a 35 page paper on food adulteration and the pure food and drug act and if it helped solve the problem. I thought it would be an easy short paper since it was just a 12 page max paper. I went over and by page 35 I was only half way done with my argument and history of food adulteration.
I now know I can write a long fucking paper I had so many sources my bibliography took about 3 pages single spaced. Or they have an awful lot of quantitative data or have great editing skills. A long thesis is not necessarily a good thesis.
I bet that one Natural Resources Science and Management major would feel pretty silly after seeing this. Seen this before and I remember from last time, someone pointed out that sociology and statistics have no outliers. Economics is way down at the bottom, but applied economics is about two thirds of the way up.
Can someone tell me what that means? Economics PhD dissertations being short has more to do with how math intense they are than anything else--and not math as in the data tables kind of way, but more about math as in the real analysis kind of way.
Saving trees since Galois wrote down Galois theory in a letter the night before he was shot in a duel. It happens sometimes in History. You could say that it just kinda writes itself over time.
Thesis or Dissertation Writing: How Many Pages or Words? By Jeff Karon March 16, No And not just the editors who help you with your project: academic and trade press editors always are focused on length. Book Proposals | Web Content and Blog Development JEFF KARON, Ph.D. is an English professor, writer, editor, poet, teacher, and.
A PhD thesis should have as many pages because of Formatting a thesis which is page long or consists of 40, words needs real hard work. And students, who have completed writing the document, feel weary of correcting the format of the document.
As many PhD candidates are wont to do, Beck took the pressure of readying for his defense and channeled it toward an incredibly interesting (if entirely thesis-unrelated) side project. Apr 15, · The range was incredibly variable (minimum of 21 pages, maximum of ), but most dissertations were around to pages. Interestingly, a lot of students graduated in August just prior to the fall semester.
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